Statues made of clay depicting Tharu lifestyle and culture on display at the under-construction Tharu museum in Chakhaura, Dang in these recent pictures. Photo: Devendra Basnet/Republica
While the first museum is struggling for funds for maintenance, the provincial government is building a new museum at a cost of 6.5 million rupees
DANG, Sept 9: There was a huge excitement among the members of the Tharu community of Dang when they came up with an idea to establish a Tharu museum in Panaura of Ghorahi over a decade ago. The museum was supposed to exhibit and conserve Tharu culture and tradition and preserve them for the future generations. The plan got traction and even people even from a very humble background donated for building the Gumraha Tharu Cultural Museum.
The museum, thought to be the pride of all Tharus, is now in dilapidated condition. It’s completely deserted in lack of maintenance and visitors. Its roofs and walls leak and the artifacts kept inside wear a poor look.
“A decade ago it was established with a huge support from the locals. Even the Ghorahi Municipality had extended support for building it. It was established at a total cost of Rs 1.1 million,” said Prakash Chaudhari, district secretary of Tharu Welfare Committee, Dang, the organization that built the museum. “But the building and the interior are now in the need of facelift. It’s in very poor condition,” he added.
The museum had purchased some valuable statues and artifacts to keep in the museum. But in lack of maintenance, they have also lost their shine. “During the rainy days, the rooms leak so badly that it is flooded inside. The artifacts inside the museum get wet. Many valuable things have been destroyed,” reports Chaudhari.
The committee says it does not have the capacity to repair the building on its own. It will require a substantial amount of budget for repairing it. He added that they are approaching the local government for support.
“We cannot restore the museum to its original form with support from the government. We have approached the local government and looking forward for its support,” Chaudhari said.
Clay has a vital space in Tharu culture and lifestyle. Artifacts made of clay, which were in huge numbers in the museum, have been destroyed during the last 10 years. Different varieties of clay artifacts, showcased in the museum, have been damaged.
Though the museum would attract visitors in the initial days, the museum saw a gradual decline in their number later. These days, the number of visitor is almost none.
Interestingly, the museum does not open every day or on a regular routine either. If somebody wants to visit it, they have to first call the authorities concerned to open it.
“I carry the key of the museum. Earlier we had a gatekeeper but due to the lack of budget to pay the gatekeeper, we couldn’t continue to keep him,” Chaudhari said. “Whoever wants to visit the museum, call me and I attend them.”
During the establishment of the museum, Rs 200,000 was allocated for its management and the museum did not receive additional budget ever again. “We have been working with the local government to get funds for repairing the museum. We have not received funds for maintaining it since its establishment,” Chaudhari said.
Even though the glory of this first Tharu museum is in ruins and is struggling for donations for repairs, another Tharu museum is in the making.
The second Tharu museum is presently under construction in Chakhaura. People behind the construction of the second Tharu museum claim that once completed the museum will be major attraction for visitors in the area.
According to Ashok Tharu, who is in the management committee of the second museum, final touches are being given to the second museum’s building.
“We have built the museum at a cost of Rs 6.5 million provided by the provincial government,” he said. “This is expected to be one of the major tourist destinations in the coming days,” he added. Province -5 government allocated budget for building the museum from the current fiscal year’s budget.